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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 05-15-2009, 01:09 PM
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Can you show me on this pic where the headlight adjusters are?

Can someone just show me where on this pic of my 2002 E39 the headlight adjustments are?

I've read many threads and am confused about "servo adjusters", "replacing adjusters", "auto leveling adjusters", etc. Mine doesn't seem to be fancy automatic stuff ... the lights are just set way way way too low.

I can replace a headlight bulb ... but I need a bit of help identifying where the up/down headlight adjuster screws are.

Can you kindly circle the adjusters for me in this picture below of the left and right headlight assembly?

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  #2  
Old 05-15-2009, 01:22 PM
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I don't know how to do that circling stuff... but they're inside the lights. You need to take the lens covers off to get to them. On your model year, that involves baking them or something. There are DIY's on it. On my year, they're held together by clips and are very easy to take apart. Pre-vanos wins yet again!
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  #3  
Old 05-15-2009, 01:25 PM
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If they are the auto adjusting (Im pretty sure all post 01 E39s are auto adjusting) then the reason your lights are low is because the adjusters are broken. The only fix it is to open them up and repair the adjusters.
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  #4  
Old 05-15-2009, 01:40 PM
Mark@EAC Mark@EAC is offline
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all the lights have manual adjusters, which are the white things that accept an allen wrench. The halogen 01+ lights do not auto level, the xenons do. The xenon lights still have manual adjusters too- the manual adjusters are what aims the lights and keep them aimed.

9 times out of 10 if your lights are too low the adjusters need to be replaced.
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  #5  
Old 05-15-2009, 01:52 PM
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This might help.

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=298901
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  #6  
Old 05-15-2009, 03:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark@EACTuning View Post
all the lights have manual adjusters, which are the white things that accept an allen wrench. The halogen 01+ lights do not auto level, the xenons do. The xenon lights still have manual adjusters too- the manual adjusters are what aims the lights and keep them aimed.

9 times out of 10 if your lights are too low the adjusters need to be replaced.
Thanks for the info.
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  #7  
Old 05-15-2009, 03:55 PM
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540iman 540iman is offline
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The adjusters are never able to be seen unless the light is completely disassembled. The little white knobs that can adjust the headlight up and down and inside to outside are able to be seen, but not from your pictures as they are on the backside. If you turn these white knobs (either of them) and the headlight beam does not move, it means the adjusters which are the "link" between those white knobs and the headlamp assembly are broken. The adjusters are also the "link" between the motors which auto-adjust your lights and the headlight assembly.
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  #8  
Old 05-15-2009, 08:17 PM
jayee_2003 jayee_2003 is offline
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I lowered my 530i and had to adjust the Xenons to shine higher. This was a year ago but I think I remember turning the white allens closest to the center of the car. The Xenons shine just fine since. Had to have the car face a nice wall 20 ft away to see that turning the screw made a difference.
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  #9  
Old 05-19-2009, 05:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayee_2003 View Post
I think I remember turning the white allens closest to the center of the car
I'm confused.

First off, I don't think I have Xenon (in my 2002 525i) since I use a normal H7 bulb; and I don't think I have automatic adjusters ('cuz I've never seen them move ... but maybe they're just broken ... ).

Secondly, I found an E39 headlight adjustment procedure here and I did find a really nice picture here that concurs with the top circle done on my picture (kindly annotated by javee_2003) but the two diagrams I found (see below) seem to show adjusters in the "back" of the headlight, not on the top (which is what is circled in the two pictures below).

I'm confused. How many adjustment screws are there, per side or per bulb? And, of those, how many are on the top and how many are in the back of the headlight? Do I really have to disassemble the headlight to get to those adjustment screws? (I find that disconcerting.)


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Last edited by bluebee; 05-19-2009 at 05:30 PM.
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  #10  
Old 05-19-2009, 05:41 PM
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You have 2 adjusters per light (1 for lift right and 1 for up down.) The inner ones, that are circled are the ones for Up/Down adjustment IIRC. The black thing that's crossed out is for adjusting the gaps between your hood and fender, nothing to do with the headlights. Try to face a white wall and start turning those inner circled adjusters with an allen wrench that fits. If they don't move it means your actual adjusters(inside the headlights) are broken and need to be replaced.
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  #11  
Old 05-19-2009, 10:20 PM
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What are the clear circles at the top front of the housing for?
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  #12  
Old 05-20-2009, 10:24 AM
jayee_2003 jayee_2003 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
I'm confused.

Secondly, I found an E39 headlight adjustment procedure here and I did find a really nice picture here that concurs with the top circle done on my picture (kindly annotated by javee_2003) but the two diagrams I found (see below) seem to show adjusters in the "back" of the headlight, not on the top (which is what is circled in the two pictures below).
Bluebee
I'm doing some learning from your thread.
I looked in a Bentley and saw that both rear and top adjusters are mentioned as one in the same. I looked more closely to the headlight assembly and it looks like the top allen head adjusters are geared to an axle facing the back of the assembly. From what I can tell, these two adjusters are the same whether they face the back as turn knobs or the top with allens.
Judging from the diagram you provided, the inner adjuster will provide the most vertical adjustment of the two. Yet to truly adjust the headlights properly, it looks like both must be used.
Well, that's what I see from Bentley, here and what's on the the car I have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fortunateson View Post
What are the clear circles at the top front of the housing for?
I'm not totally sure but this worked out to be a great spot to put a bubble level.
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  #13  
Old 05-20-2009, 02:04 PM
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Inner allen knobs for up and down

and Outer ones for horizontal movement. When i put in my new adjustors, I had to keep adjusting both knobs to get a lot of vertical increase.
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  #14  
Old 05-20-2009, 06:54 PM
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Are these statements true or false?

To summarize, can you confirm the true or false'ness of these statements?

[true/false]There are two headlight assemblies (driver & passenger side)
[true/false]There are two beams per headlight assembly (high and low)
[true/false]There are two adjusters per headlight assembly (up'ish & down'ish)
[true/false]The headlight adjusters are INSIDE the headlight assembly
[true/false]A white 6mm allen-head twist knob OUTSIDE the headlight assembly turns the adjusters that are inside the headlight assembly
[true/false]The inner 6mm allen white knob does up/down movement (sort of)
[true/false]The outer 6mm allen knob controls side/side movement (sort of)
[true/false]Actually you have to twist both knobs to get true up/down or side/side movement
[true/false]You don't control the high or the low beam; you control both at the same time
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  #15  
Old 05-21-2009, 08:23 AM
Mark@EAC Mark@EAC is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
To summarize, can you confirm the true or false'ness of these statements?

[true/false]There are two headlight assemblies (driver & passenger side) true
[true/false]There are two beams per headlight assembly (high and low)true
[true/false]There are two adjusters per headlight assembly (up'ish & down'ish)true
[true/false]The headlight adjusters are INSIDE the headlight assemblytrue
[true/false]A white 6mm allen-head twist knob OUTSIDE the headlight assembly turns the adjusters that are inside the headlight assemblytrue
[true/false]The inner 6mm allen white knob does up/down movement true
[true/false]The outer 6mm allen knob controls side/side movementtrue
[true/false]Actually you have to twist both knobs to get true up/down or side/side movementfalse
[true/false]You don't control the high or the low beam; you control both at the same timetrue
there ya go. regarding aiming the lights, the dealer has a fancy setup to do it. You can get on hidplanet forums and find a good how to for your average weekend mechanic though.

Last edited by Mark@EAC; 05-21-2009 at 08:25 AM.
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  #16  
Old 05-21-2009, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
[true]There are two headlight assemblies (driver & passenger side)
[true]There are two beams per headlight assembly (high and low)
[true]There are two adjusters per headlight assembly (up'ish & down'ish)
[true]The headlight adjusters are INSIDE the headlight assembly
[true]A white 6mm allen-head twist knob OUTSIDE the headlight assembly turns the adjusters that are inside the headlight assembly
[true]The inner 6mm allen white knob does up/down movement (sort of)
[true]The outer 6mm allen knob controls side/side movement (sort of)
[not really]Actually you have to twist both knobs to get true up/down or side/side movement
[true]You don't control the high or the low beam; you control both at the same time
This is based on my recollection of my previous e39, which had H7 bulbs. My "new" e39 has HID so I can't double check. As I recall, the act of adjusting/changing the beam direction was not hard. Just turn those knobs using the allen key. Getting it to aim properly was fairly difficult. Up and down was not difficult because you can put a chalk line on a wall at the right distance and get the proper beam height (which translates to distance down the road). I found getting the side to side beam direction to be much more challenging because misalignment of your car relative to the wall (needs to be perpendicular) can significantly magnify changes to the side the side direction. Also different bulbs seem to put out different beams, further complicating the process. What worked best for me was parking on a dark flat street and playing with the adjusters until the beams seem right.
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  #17  
Old 05-21-2009, 02:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tedm View Post
I don't know how to do that circling stuff...
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  #18  
Old 05-23-2009, 08:56 AM
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Headlight adjuster DIY attached

Found this most excellent DIY thread on fixing the actual headlight adjusters themselves (the white parts that are INSIDE the E39 headlight assembly).

I also took the liberty of recombining the DIY into a single PDF file (and shrinking to fit the 500KB upload limit).

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  #19  
Old 05-27-2009, 08:12 PM
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I tried adjusting my 2002 E39 headlights and failed miserably.

I tried adjusting my 2002 E39 headlights and failed miserably.

Only the innermost adjusters did anything; the two outer adjusters didn't seem to move anything. I suppose that means they're broken ... sigh ...

I do seem to have a strange pattern now, that I didn't notice before. Do you guys notice anything strange about this headlight pattern?

Especially that prismatic stuff right in front of the car?

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  #20  
Old 05-27-2009, 10:18 PM
TheStig TheStig is offline
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It looks like it is pointing down and reflecting off your bumper. I think that's why the pattern is all messed up.
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  #21  
Old 06-17-2009, 09:54 AM
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  #22  
Old 06-17-2009, 11:57 AM
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BlueBee-
Your info/ posts are incredibly thorough and informing!
Simply amazing!

IMO, your adjusters are indeed broken.

My low beams point down as well.

Thanks!
Jason
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  #23  
Old 06-17-2009, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason5driver View Post
IMO, your adjusters are indeed broken.
I wonder why all these adjusters are broken when headlights should almost never need to be adjusted.

Are they breaking on their own?

Or are they only breaking from overzealous tweaking?
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  #24  
Old 06-17-2009, 03:30 PM
TheStig TheStig is offline
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Are they breaking on their own? Vibrations from the road can break them when the plastic is brittle.

Or are they only breaking from overzealous tweaking? Yes, that too.
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  #25  
Old 06-17-2009, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
I wonder why all these adjusters are broken when headlights should almost never need to be adjusted.

Are they breaking on their own?

Or are they only breaking from overzealous tweaking?
Over time, all the cheap plastic becomes brittle and breaks....

Example: cooling system...
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